Paris on the Terrace at Jordan Winery

Four-course outdoor lunch’s menu, bistro-like setting evoke City of Light.

Editor’s note: The experience described below was offered in 2020 and 2021. Check the Jordan website for current tastings and tours.

Inspired elegance informs all the experiences at Jordan Vineyard & Winery, which produces a single Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon each year. In response to Covid-19 and Sonoma County requirements for social distancing and outdoor tastings, Jordan introduced Paris on the Terrace, a four-course lunch served near the winery’s bright-yellow, ivy-covered French-style château. Shaded by tall oaks as a playlist of Gallic standards wafts through, guests dine in a bistro-like setting that, abetted by the opening-course glass of Jordan Cuvée champagne, gently evokes the City of Light. Paris on the Terrace, which resumes in May 2021, will continue through August, then resume for two weeks in October. Below is a review of the 2020 edition.

Organic Ingredients

Executive chef Todd Knoll culls many of the lunch’s ingredients from an organic garden visible from the terrace, and the olive oil used in the vinaigrettes and for dipping the craveworthy fougasse bread comes from 18 acres of trees planted on the 1,200-acre property. A recent lunch began with Niçoise and carrot salads served with Jordan Cuvée, made in France for the winery, and the relatively low-alcohol 2018 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Several cellar decisions with the Chardonnay resulted in a pleasing outcome, most notably the short time in oak (six months) and limited (12%) malolactic fermentation for a hint of creaminess that didn’t undermine the citrus and stone- and tropical-fruit flavors. 

Niçoise salad with capers and trout roe.

Terrific Pairing

The 2018 Chardonnay was still in the glass as the second course – frisée salad with other greens, tomatoes, and thinly sliced beets – began. The salad’s other pairing was the 2010 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Softened with time but still showing plenty of fruit, the 2010 played well off the pink-peppercorn citrus vinaigrette’s tart spiciness. One doesn’t always think of Cabernet with salad, but this pairing (lead photo) was terrific.

Velvety Goodness

The third course featured salumi from Journeyman Meat Co., two of them made with Jordan Cabernet, with duck confit, smoked cheddar, truffled Brie, nuts, cornichons, mostarda (candied fruit with mustard sauce), and olives. All went well with the 2010 Cab and the current-release 2016 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, none more spectacularly than the Brie. Soft of tannin, comparatively light on the tongue, and regally elegant, the 2016 wrapped its velvety goodness around the chocolate mousse for dessert.

Jordan Cabernet was used to make some of the salumi.

Both the Cabernets were made by Rob Davis, who was involved in crafting every vintage here for more than four decades. When he retired in 2019, associate winemaker Maggie Kruse, who joined Jordan in 2006, succeeded him as head winemaker.

Chocolate mousse with white-chocolate pearls.

Cabernet, Hikes, Picnics

Paris on the Terrace resumes in May 2021 from Thursday through Sunday, as does a second outdoor experience (also on Monday), the Chateau Block Vineyard Tasting. For this tasting, which focuses on current-release and older Cabernet Sauvignons, guests walk uphill for 10 minutes or so along the edge of a recently planted Cabernet vineyard. Grand Alexander Valley views unfold from the oak-shaded knoll where the tastings take place. Two other opportunities to visit include spring and fall vineyard hikes (listed, when available, on the winery’s Tours & Tastings website page) and the deluxe Estate Tour & Tasting in a Mercedes Sprinter van.

The Chateau Block Vineyard Tasting takes place on a knoll overlooking a Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard.

Note: The winery requires guests to follow current Sonoma County health and safety protocols, among them social distancing and the wearing of masks except while at one’s table. Hand sanitizers are available in several locations.


1474 Alexander Valley Rd., Healdsburg 95448

Why go: special-occasion feel; excellent wines; Paris on the Terrace.

Chateau Block Cabernet grapes in late July.

More About Sonoma County

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Sonoma County Basics

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